Fire Of Love

****1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Fire Of Love
"The force of nature comes to stunning, searing life thanks to the Kraffts' footage, whether it is rivers of magma or gouts of smoke, with the film gradually building the case that they knew exactly the impact of what they were committing to camera would be."

The sight of people in strange silver suits against a wall of blazing crimson magma looks as though it has been plucked from a Seventies science-fiction film. In fact, it's just one of many of the remarkable pieces of footage drawn from the archive of French geologist Maurice and geoscientist Katia Krafft that Sara Dosa and writers Shane Boris, Erin Casper, Jocelyne Chaput flow together for this documentary consideration of their life and work.

The pair - who the narration, by Miranda July, quickly indicates, would lose their lives due to a volcano in 1991 - met in 1966 and went on to forge their careers at the cutting edge of volcanology until their deaths. "We erupt often," quips Maurice in one of the many interviews that are intercut with the footage they shot on their regular expeditions, already indicating the pair's media-savvy ability to coin a phrase. Fire Of Love, who while taking a largely chronological approach to their work, also adopts a quirky attitude, not only employing the eye-popping visuals the Kraffts caught on camera in shooting conditions that make you fear almost continually for their lives, but also happily going off on tangents as it probes the equally passionate nature of their own relationship.

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The Kraffts' fascination with all the new developments in their science proves fascinating, whether we're watching Katia shot in frighteningly close proximity to an enormous wall of molten rock, the man and wife clambering over the crumbling lip of a volcano or hearing about that time when Maurice and a pal took the distinctly Herzogian decision to go out for a sail on an acid lake in a dinghy they bought for 100 francs from a flea market. (After all, Krafft reasoned, why pay more when it was going to be ruined.) Although this, along with the homemade equipment they first wore to protect them from the heat are outrageous, the pair, and particularly Maurice, were sanguine about the prospect of death, an attitude that, the film suggests was behind their decision to switch their focus from "red volcanoes" - which they considered more benign - to their explosively dangerous "grey" counterparts.

The force of nature comes to stunning, searing life thanks to the Kraffts' footage, whether it is rivers of magma or gouts of smoke, with the film gradually building the case that they knew exactly the impact of what they were committing to camera would be. Although this is a lightly worked, eye-popping crowdpleaser the writers also smuggle a fair amount of factual information along the way about how volcanoes function and the vital work that the Kraffts were doing when they lost their lives - which makes it no surprise that National Geographic have snapped up the worldwide rights. The documentary finds connections big and small and brings them together in a blaze of glorious testimony to two lives of dedication that may have danced on the line between fearless and reckless but which brought real benefit to those living in volcano-threatened areas.

Reviewed on: 03 Feb 2022
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Intrepid scientists and lovers Katia and Maurice Krafft died in a volcanic explosion doing the very thing that brought them together: unraveling the mysteries of volcanoes by capturing the most explosive imagery ever recorded. A doomed love triangle between Katia, Maurice and volcanoes, told through their archival footage.

Director: Sara Dosa

Writer: Shane Boris, Erin Casper, Jocelyne Chaput

Starring: Miranda July, Katia Krafft, Maurice Krafft

Year: 2022

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: Canada, US


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